Today's Muse: Erin Dionne
Author of: Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies (review here)
Bookworm: What made you want to write Celeste's story?
Erin: Models began as a short story, actually. My stories and novels always begin with a character, and this one was no exception. In 2002, driving home from work, the image of an overweight girl, eating spinach salad, sitting alone in a school cafeteria, popped into my head. Immediately, I wanted to know who this girl was, what she was doing, and why she was alone. That wondering turned into "On BBQ Day, No One Brings A Lunch", which won a local writing competition. When I read it at a writing conference in 2005, the group leader suggested I turn it into a novel. Luckily, I took her suggestion!
Bookworm: How long did it take you to write Models, from start to finish?
Erin: Since I already had written the short story, I knew the characters really, really, well. The first draft *poured* out of me in 6 weeks! But I'm a major revisor, so I revised it about seven times over two years after that--and that's BEFORE my editor got hold of it!
Bookworm: Have you ever been in a pageant such as the HuskyPeach competition that the main character, Celeste, takes part in in the book?
Erin: I personally haven't, but I had two friends who were local models for a department store when we were in high school. So I used a combination of memories from that time and a lot of imagination to come up with the pageant. That's the beauty of fiction--creating something real out of wisps and nothing.
Bookworm: Is Celeste based off of yourself or anyone else you know?
Erin: Celeste and I share a lot of the same experiences: we both threw up on our gym teacher's shoes, we both had to wear a peach bridesmaid dress in our cousin's wedding, and we both try very hard to please people in our lives. And I could definitely identify with Celeste being an outsider in school. We moved around a lot when I was a kid, so I had a range of good and bad experiences that help me in my writing.
Bookworm: If Models had a soundtrack, which songs would you pick to be on it?
Erin: Funny you should ask! I actually have one. There's a singer/songwriter character in the book, Theo Christmas, who Celeste crushes on. My friend, Dann Russo, also a singer, was the inspiration for Theo. So he actually wrote and recorded two of the songs that Celeste loves: Ruby Red Hair and Dreaming Without You. You can download them for free from my website. Other songs I'd put on the soundtrack are also on my site: Everybody Hurts by REM, Finally by Ce Ce Peniston, I'm Coming Out by Diana Ross, and others...
Bookworm: Will there be a sequel?
Erin: I hope so! Right now, there isn't one scheduled, but if enough people like Celeste's story and want more of her I am hoping that my publishing company will want one...
Bookworm: Are you currently working on/planning to write any more novels for teens?
Erin: Yes! My next book, The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet will be released in spring 2010. It features Shakespeare-obsessed parents, a genius little sister, giant cuts of meat, and Renaissance Fairs--plus total embarrassment for the main character!
TOTALLY RANDOM BONUS QUESTION: What's your favorite kind of cookie?
Erin: Homemade chocolate chip. Peanut butter cookies are a close second.
Thanks so much for being this week's Muse, Erin, and congratulations on the release (on February 5) of Models! I can't wait to read The Total Tragedy....it sounds amazing! (: